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Letter: Progressive, conservative labels on ASUO politics unnecessary

Imagine a group of people in the ASUO whose leadership has gotten us a 24-hour Knight Library, football season tickets, late-night bus service, campus composting, free New York Times papers on campus (now discontinued), a depoliticized and more comprehensive internship class (discontinued), and continued assurances of the Emerald’s independence.

Now imagine a second group of people in the ASUO whose leadership has gotten us a re-politicized internship class, a restoration of your money paying off-campus political advocates, the Student Sustainability Coalition and Mallard [email protected]@names [email protected]@

The main people in the first group are former ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz@@http://www.cbsnews.com/[email protected]@, former ASUO Senate President Alex McCafferty@@http://ethosmagonline.com/archives/[email protected]@, and former ASUO Senator Demic Tipitino@@http://www.kval.com/news/local/[email protected]@. In ASUO circles, they are referred to as “conservative,” but for what? I wouldn’t call any of those accomplishments “conservative.”

The main people in the second group are ASUO President Ben Eckstein@@http://asuo.uoregon.edu/[email protected]@, ASUO Vice President Katie Taylor@@http://asuo.uoregon.edu/executive.php?a=12#[email protected]@, and ASUO Senator and ACFC Chair Ben Bowman@@http://asuo.uoregon.edu/[email protected]@. In ASUO circles, they are referred to as “progressive,” but again, for what?

One answer they say is they support lower tuition and higher aid — but who doesn’t? I can tell you both groups support lower tuition and higher aid. The difference is the first group has tried finding a new way forward, while the second group has fought to preserve the same system that has gotten us higher tuition and lower aid. They also say they support sustainability — but again, who doesn’t? Both groups have accomplishments in sustainability. Another thing they say is that they are about “student power” and “student autonomy,” but they define students as “people enrolled at this University who share their views.” When the first group fought to ensure students’ voices on Lariviere were heard by the Oregon University System, the second group supported the OUS. The first group has protected the autonomy of every individual student, regardless of their views. The second has not.

The real difference between the two boils down to the fact that the first group views their time in office as an opportunity to improve the everyday lives of students and to leave campus better than they found it. The second group views their time in office as an opportunity to pursue their political agenda with your money and at the expense of your everyday quality of life on campus. I’m not saying absolutely everything they do is to that end, as evidenced by Student Sustainability Coalition and Mallard Madness, but they will never accomplish what the first group has because their main focus is advancing their political agenda.

Don’t believe me? When we as a Senate were setting our priorities in the fall, President Eckstein, Vice President Taylor and Senator Bowman wanted to shortchange free theater tickets, Holden Center, Conflict Resolution Services and Mills International Center. Why? To pay for a 97 percent increase in their pet political cause, OSPIRG. That’s definitely a big difference, but not the difference between “progressive” and “conservative.” It’s the difference between focusing on advancing their political agenda on the student dime and focusing on improving the everyday life of students.

Ben Rudin
ASUO Senator

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